Also, there were no “Vikings”
Why would this publication give a man from Venezuela the assignment of writing about a show called Vikings: Valhalla? Well, I don’t consider myself an expert on Scandinavian culture and history… I consider myself THE expert. For some very crazy reason I have dedicated a good part of my life to the study of the so-called Viking Age. Yes, something less than strange for a Venezuelan who has never even spoken to a Norwegian. However, I have researched… a lot.
After watching Vikings, the original series created by Michael Hirst and History Channel’s first scripted series, I certainly had a lot of mixed feelings. But I understood how insanely difficult it was to create a show based not only in legends and barely like four or five historical facts, and at the same time not to mess up with Scandinavian culture, pride and legacy.
But just the fact that it started with the famous (infamous) raid on the Lindisfarme monastery in 793, was kind of interesting… although the real Ragnar Lodbrok was born in around 785… so that’s where the “real” story ends. But that show is over. It was a success. The first season was bloody, mystical, fresh… then, well, the usual conversion to a soap opera where the initial essence was fading as just like the sanity in the mind of the character Loki; And if you weren’t from Scandinavia or cared much about the history of those lands, Vikings was a great pill to digest. Lagertha, I will always love you.
So thanks to Ragnar and his pals, we have this new violent-twisted circus called Vikings: Valhalla, the series that in theory would explore the life of the most famous Vikings and about whom there is a LOT of information; guys like Leif Erikson, Harald Hardrada, etc. This series is supposed to cover the great rise and end of the Viking Age.
I mean, it was very difficult to get information, not even in the sagas, about what happened in the early Viking Age, but with these heavyweights like Leif (and his notorious father, Erik The Red), Harald, Olaf and many others, there is certainly good material to have carried out an investigation and take into account something very important: We are not talking about Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings: fiction content based on fictional novels with the sole purpose of entertaining via fiction. No, we are dealing here with a whole different animal: this is about the culture and history of a group of countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland) and the adventures of their national heroes.
Now, let’s dig into this new series created by Jeb Stuart, the guy who wrote that immortal and lovely Christmas classic called Die Hard.
Valhalla or heaven? Who cares, let’s kill’em all!
Although I did not have great expectations, I found myself seduced by the idea of seeing Leif Erikson (the man who arrived in America hundreds of years before a certain Christopher Columbus) and his father (Erik the Red, who did not appear in the first season).
We also follow the story of Harald Sigurdsson, later known as Harald Hardrada (ruthless, or something like that); one of the last or the last great kings of the Viking Age. SPOILER ALERT: he dies in the battle of Stamford Bridge, which seals the end of the Viking Age. That will surely culminate this show in how many seasons? Only Odin and Jesus Christ will know.
Vikings: Valhalla starts off great, and right away we see Leif and Harald becoming BFFs. That’s so cool!
Leif arrives from Greenland to Kattegat, accompanying his sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir, who was raped as a child by a Christian “Viking”. He marked a cross on her back with a knife in a, um, not-so-subtle way. She is looking for revenge. He (Leif) is looking to make a name for himself as something other than Erik The Red’s son.
But like right away, I mean, boom! Just like that, Freydís jumps into bed with good Harald. So the shows begins with great sex, friendship, revenge, blood (she finds the Chritian Viking who raped-her-as-gently-as-any-true-Jesus-Christ-believer-should-do, and kills him in the way only good old fashioned Odin would understand). It’s funny how Christian Vikings do the most violent, disturbing and sadistic acts, literally in the name of Jesus.
The exaggerated and exorbitant way in which the series handles religious beliefs and differences detracts from its seriousness and turns it into a strange caricature. The Christians against the pagans… and really, one wonders, who the hell are they targeting this series? Pagans, Christians, they’re all killing whether they use crosses or summon Thor.
When the truth is that the Norse were always very pragmatic in their beliefs. Many believed in what they wanted to believe. Some, true, praised Odin and his friends; Many others converted to Christianity for initially economic reasons, since it was the only way to make deals with other Europeans. But there were no internal wars over beliefs between Christians and pagans.
Then again, the bond between Leif (Sam Corlett) and Harald (Leo Suter) is solid, legit…and as unreal as Santa Claus. Let’s talk real history here:Leif Erikson was born in 970 and died in 1020; while Harald Hardrada was born in 1015 and died on September 25, 1066. So, Harald was 5 years old when Leif died. Meaning: there was no chance at all those two meet each other (not even mentioning the possibility that Harald had an affair with Freydís).
So the series begins with a scenario that is as unlikely as it is ridiculous and unnecessary. These two men belong to different times and the history of each has nothing to do with the other. In this sense, everything starts very badly.
We, the Vikings!
I spent a couple of weeks reading many forums to get feedback from people in Scandinavia to catch their reaction to the show. And one of the most notorious aspects is the whole theme of the word Viking.
In Vikings: Valhalla, the characters use the word Viking with pride, something like “we are all Vikings, we must all be united, blah, blah, blah”. This is total madness that shows the lack of judgment when writing the series.
To begin with, the Norse are not a community united by a demonym. Those from Norway are Norwegian, those from Sweden are Swedish, those from Denmark are Danish. A unanimous nomenclature never united them, much less the word Viking which, to honor reality, no Nordic ever appreciated. Not even in the sagas.
Do you want to know who used the word Viking? The poor bastards who from their homes on the coast saw dozens of ships approaching ready to loot and torture them. Holy Shit, here come the Vikings! It was a derogatory term towards this caste of northern men who became the terror of several countries.
So when Olaf or Harald or anyone else yells that we’re all Vikings, I know that somewhere in Denmark, there’s a guy watching Netflix, thinking: WTF!
It’s WOKE time!
But I think everything implodes when the show introduces the character Jarl Haakon. Loosely inspired by Håkon Eiriksson, an actor named Caroline Henderson plays this character.
Here you can debate whether there were ever black Vikings or not. What you cannot debate is that the real person on whom the show bases Henderson’s character was NOT a black woman.
And this is when the idiocy of wokism and “diversity” turn Vikings: Valhalla into a simple, empty and unserious product, like any other violent show that resorts to the formulas that our culture currently considers “necessary” .
There is even a caste of female warriors who defend Jarl Haakon. This, despite the fact that at some point I fantasized about Gal Gadot suddenly appearing to save the day, wasn’t the way things happened back then. A black woman as a Jarl, an army of Amazon-like-Vikings-women-warriors…that’s so far out!… even for the guy who wrote Die Hard.
You’re supposed to be telling a story that has to do with characters that their home countries value and respect highly. The least you should do is present them in a way that is at least consistent. Or better yet, why stick your nose into the history of a group of countries, when the best thing would be to invent something like The Witcher or whatever that doesn’t insult the legacy of men and women who their people remember for their deeds, good or bad.
This guy asked on a forum: ‘What if in Sweden we make a series about Martin Luther King played by one of us, white, blond, blue eyes? How much fun would that be?’